(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team ran into a road block on its way to the 24th Outrigger Resorts Invitational title with a four-set loss to fourth-ranked BYU in the championship match Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23.
The Cougars (17-4), winners of their last 12 matches, captured their third Outrigger title in as many appearances and first since 2007. The Rainbow Warriors (13-3), which had won the last two Outrigger titles, were seeking their third tournament crown this season after capturing the Texaco Classic and Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger Classic.
Outside hitter Stijn van Tilburg had a team-high 16 kills, hitting .355 and was named to the all-tournament team along with outside hitter Austin Matautia, who finished with five aces – all in the first set and 12 for the tournament – and 11 kills. All-tournament selection setter Joe Worsley posted his second straight double-double with 43 assists and 10 digs.
BYU outside hitter Brenden Sander earned the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award after finishing with 12 kills, three aces, six digs, and four blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez was also named to the all-tournament team and tallied nine kills and five aces. Storm Fa'agata-Tufuga came off the bench and led the Cougars with 16 kills, three aces, and six blocks.
Also named to the all-tournament team were Penn State's Kevin Gear and Lewis' Ryan Coenen.
The teams combined for 20 service aces – 11 by BYU and 9 by UH – and 23 blocks – 13.5 by BYU and 9.5 by UH. The Cougars hit .340 compared to .333 for the Warriors.
Matautia's first ace occurred during a 7-0 run to start Set 1. The Cougars rallied with a pair of Sander aces and eventually took their first lead at 12-11 after a block on Matautia. BYU maintained its lead until Matautia's second ace tied the score at 20 and his third ace gave UH a 21-20 lead. Two straight BYU hitting errors and another Matautia ace got the Warriors to set point at 24-20. His fifth ace ended the set.
In Set 2, the Cougars jumped ahead 10-5 after three blocks and a Sander ace. UH closed to within two at 11-9 after a three-point spurt but consecutive aces by Fa'agata-Tufuga gave the Cougars a 15-10 lead at the media timeout. Hawai'i inched to within 19-17 after a Matautia-Dalton Solbrig double-block but the Cougars sided-out to close out the set.
The Cougars scored the first three points of Set 3 and led 8-3. The lead was 15-6 after back-to-back aces by Fernandez. Down 20-10, the Warriors mounted a comeback closing to within three at 22-19 after scoring five straight. However, BYU closed out the set with Fa'agata-Tufuga's 15th kill.
In a tight Set 4, the Warriors got a three-point cushion at 19-16 after an ace by Solbrig. The Cougars closed to within 20-19 after consecutive kills by Fernandez and Sander and tied it at 21 after Sanders' 11th kill. BYU's block came up big down the stretch as a Sander-Christian Rupert double-block gave them a 23-22 lead and Fa'agata-Tufuga and Rupert teamed up to stuff van Tilburg on match point.
In the third place match, No. 8 Lewis downed No. 11 Penn State in four sets, 25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22. Coenen led the Flyers (14-7) with 13 kills, hitting .375. Aldan Albrecht had a match-high 19 kills for the Nittany Lions (10-7).
The Warriors return to Big West action next week with a pair of road matches at CSUN, March 15-16 in Northridge, Calif.